Clay County School raises grades with new mentor program

Clay County — There’s a new culture at Charles Bennett Elementary School in Green Cove Springs. This academic school year, students were introduced to a completely new administration staff. After they implemented new changes, they say they’re starting to see better results in their grades.

According to the Florida Department of Education, Charles Bennett Elementary was the only D school in the Clay County School district for the past two years. Principal Sheree Cagle has made new changes to try and save her school from a potential state takeover.

About four to five weeks ago, she created the mentor program. It pairs a student with a mentor to work on any area of improvement or provide moral support. The meet once a weeks for 30 minutes to an hour, and can choose any activity. The goal is to make improvements if they need help with classwork, attendance, or behavior.

Initially, the selected about 40 students who performed the lowest on a state exam. Because of it’s quick success, more students and their parents are asking to be involved now.

“Research shows that the more adults that speak into a child’s life, the more successful they’re going to be,” Assistant Principal Laura Smith said. She runs this program. “Just that person who’s there to encourage them, support, help them along the way.”

The mentors are made up of Clay County School Board members, district employees, and community members. Smith said they are searching for more to expand the program.

“We’re just in the early stages of the mentor program but Dr. Cagle has saw great success in some of the other schools she’s turned around as a result of the mentor program,” Smith said. “So we’re really hoping we’ll continue to see that.”